On this day: Empire Exhibition opened at Wembley

Crowds filled Wembley Stadium for the opening of the Empire Exhibition in 1924. It eventually attracted 27 million visitors. Picture: Getty
Crowds filled Wembley Stadium for the opening of the Empire Exhibition in 1924. It eventually attracted 27 million visitors. Picture: Getty
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EVENTS, birthdays and anniversaries on April 23.

St George’s Day – national day of England.

1349: The Order of the Garter, Britain’s senior chivalric order limited to 24 knights, was founded by King Edward III.

1533: Catholic Church inquiry declared marriage of Catherine of Aragon to England’s King Henry VIII valid.

1867: Queen Victoria and Emperor Napoleon III of France turned down proposals for a Channel Tunnel.

1879: The first Shakespeare Memorial Theatre was opened in Stratford-upon-Avon. On the same day in 1932, the New Shakespeare Memorial Theatre was opened by the Prince of Wales.

1881: Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera Patience was first produced, in London.

1904: The United States acquired property of French Panama Canal Company.

1924: The Empire Exhibition opened at Wembley Stadium.

1945: United States and Soviet forces met at Torgau in eastern Germany.

1950: The first children’s newsreel was shown on television.

1965: The Pennine Way was opened, covering 250 miles from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Borders.

1967: Russian Soyuz 1 was launched, and after completing 17 orbits crashed on re-entry on the steppes of Orenburg, killing Vladimir Komarov.

1968: The 5p and 10p decimal coins were issued in Britain.

1972: Two US Apollo 16 astronauts blasted off from Moon and rejoined command ship for journey back to Earth.

1975: South Vietnam’s cabinet resigned as panic gripped Saigon and US president Gerald Ford declared Vietnam War was over.

1983: Cliff Thorburn scored the first televised maximum break of 147 in the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible, Sheffield.

1984: The US announced the discovery of the Aids virus.

1985: Princess Anne made her flat racing debut at Epsom.

1990: Great train robber Charles Wilson was shot dead at his Marbella home in Spain.

1991: Michael Heseltine, the environment secretary, announced successor to the poll tax – the council tax based on bands of property values.

1993: A public outcry forced the Isle of Man government to abandon plans to remove punishment by birching from the statute book.

1995: Up to 8,000 refugees were reported dead in Rwanda, shot by government troops or trampled to death in the panic.

2003: Beijing closed all schools for two weeks because of the Sars virus.

2009: The gamma ray burst GRB 090423 was observed for ten seconds. The event signalled the most distant object of any kind and also the oldest known object in the universe.

2014: Fire raged through the Rio de Janeiro favela of Pavao-Pavaozinho as riots broke out when residents blamed police for the brutal deaths of three residents, including Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a dancer on Brazil’s largest TV channel.


John Hannah, East Kilbride-born actor, 53; Blair Brown, American actress, 69; Judy Davis, Australian actress, 60; JP Donleavy, American author and artist, 89; Victoria Glendinning CBE, British biographer, novelist and literary critic, 78; Jaime King, American actress, 36; Lee Majors, American actor, 76; Michael Moore, Academy Award-winning filmmaker and author, 61; Dev Patel, actor, 25; James Russo, American actor, 62; Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart, DJ, 74; Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, 34; Tessa Wyatt, British actress, 67; Alistair Brownlee MBE, Olympic gold medal-winning triathlete, 27; Brendan Cole, dancer (Strictly Come Dancing), 39.


Births: 1775 JMW Turner, painter; 1858 Max Planck, German scientist who originated the quantum theory; 1859 Dame Ethel Smythe, composer and suffragette; 1891 Sergei Prokofiev, composer; 1893 Billy Smart, circus proprietor; 1899 Dame Ngaio Marsh, New Zealand-born novelist; 1899 Vladimir Nabokov, Russian novelist; 1928 Shirley Temple Black, American child film star and diplomat; 1936 Roy Orbison, singer and composer; 1955 Tony Miles, chess grandmaster; 1955 Mike Smith, broadcaster.

Deaths: 1616 William Shakespeare, playwright (the same date as his traditional birthday in 1564); 1616 Miguel de Cervantes, novelist; 1850 William Wordsworth, poet; 1915 Rupert Brooke, poet; 1986 Jim Laker, cricketer; 1986 Otto Preminger, film director; 1988 Lord Ramsey, former Archbishop of Canterbury; 1996 Pamela Travers, creator of Mary Poppins; 1997 Denis Compton, cricketer, footballer and commentator; 1997 Malcolm Duff, mountaineer; 2005 Sir John Mills, actor, producer and director; 2007 Boris Yeltsin, president, Russian Federation 1991-9; 2014 Mark Shand, travel writer and conservationist.